A short CV

© Dienst Marketing en Communicatie VU VFT, Fotograaf Riechelle van der Valk
© Dienst Marketing en Communicatie VU VFT, Fotograaf Riechelle van der Valk


Prof. Dr. P.Th.J.M. (Piek) Vossen (1960) is full Professor of Computational Lexicology at the VU University Amsterdam, Head of the Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab (CLTL),  co-founder and co-president of the Global WordNet Assocation (GWA) and partner in the Centre for Digital Humanities Amsterdam. In 2013 he won the prestigious Spinoza Award of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and in 2015 he has been honoured by the Dutch Royal House as a “Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion”. He is also a member  the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW) and the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (KHMW).

Piek Vossen studied Dutch and General Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam and received his PhD (cum laude) in Linguistics on Computational Lexicology and Lexicography. He is/has been involved in the many national and international projects, among which: Acquilex, EuroWordNet, Meaning, Cornetto, DutchSemCor, KYOTO and GlobalWordNetGrid. In one of his latest projects NewsReader he developed the ‘History Recorder’, a computer program that ‘reads’ the news each day and precisely records what happened when and where in the world and who was involved. Furthermore he developed 4 research projects with the Spinoza-price: “Understanding of Language by Machines – an escape from the world of language”, plus 2 follow up research projects on Make Robots Talk & Think (Leolani). He is one of the principal investigators of the Gravity project Hybrid Intelligence, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and co-applicant of the Globalise-project to disclose the UNESCO archive with more than 25 million pages of historical records by the VOC. He also is co-applicant of A-Proof, where the aim is to evaluate effectiveness and costs of allied healthcare in patients recovering from COVID-19 and projectcoordinator of  the robot-project Communicating with and Relating to Social Robots: Alice Meets Leolani’ – ALANI.

For many years he combined his academic career with his work in the industry. He worked at Sail Labs (1999-2001) and as a C.T.O. of Irion Technologies B.V. (2001-2009), where he developed multilingual language technology for many different languages, such as cross-lingual semantic search, text classification, and natural-language dialogue systems.

Vossen published more than 350 (peer reviewed) articles in national and international journals, conference proceedings, book chapters and (hand)books. He has given invited keynote lectures at several conferences and other occasions, is a regular organizer of and referee for (inter)national conferences and journals, and has served on many scientific, advisory and program committees. He also serves as a member of PhD-committees in the Netherlands as well as abroad. In 2014 he also won the Enlighten Your Research Competition 2013.

He is a member of several advisory boards and institutes, such as the Network Institute, DEFT Events Advisory Board of the Linguistic Data Consortium (LDC), Human Language Technologies (HLT)-Committee responsible for the further development of the ‘HLT collabaration between South Africa and the Nederlandse Taalunie, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Ontology-Lexica Community Group and the Taalbank Nederlands (GTB) of the Institute of Dutch Lexicography (INL); he also serves as an expert reviewer for the European Union.

His research interests are WordNets, Computational Lexicon, Ontologies, Computational Linguistics, Language Technology and Computer-Applications, both within a single language and from a multilingual perspective. Vossen is interested in the relation between lexicons and ontologies, from a theoretical point of view as well as from their usage in computer-applications in which meaning and interpretation play a role. He sees the lexicon as a fundamental resource to anchor meaning and interpretation in useful computer behaviour. Computer behaviour can make use of communicative models and insights from communication science. The organization of the lexicon and the knowledge stored in it need to take that usage as a starting point. He combines linguistics and computer science to model understanding of natural language texts by computers.